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Big Marriage Defeat Looms In 2014 (Parts 4 And 5)

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var addthis_config = {“data_track_addressbar”:true};Parts 4 & 5 in a 7-part investigative series

Republican political operatives are about to give anti-LGBT hate groups just what they crave: a lopsided defeat for gay rights in the deepest South. NCRM’s 7-part investigative series reveals how progress toward marriage equality in other states is threatened by current events in Florida.

Part 4 of 7:  Party Plans

If EMFL’s campaign fails, that will advance two Republican Party goals:  (1) blocking the spread of marriage equality; and (2) attempting to repeal it wherever it exists.

When the first same-gender couples married in 2004, the GOP launched efforts to ban and repeal same-gender civil marriage, everywhere, forever, via the U.S. Constitution, as written on page 10 of the latest Republican Party Platform.  The prior platform said  — with no proof whatsoever — that being raised by two lesbian mothers makes children more likely to become criminals, drop-outs, violent, pregnant, and/or poor.

When the Republican Party wants to run a stealth campaign, it often calls GOP strategist Tim Mooney.

When Utah banned same-gender civil marriage in 2004, it was Tim Mooney who ran that campaign.  After ten years of discrimination, Mooney’s ban was found unconstitutional by a U.S. district court in late 2013, and for 18 days, Utah’s same-gender couples were marrying, until the ruling was stayed pending an appeal.  Also in 2004, Mooney put Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in several states, which helped put Republican George Bush in the White House because some of Democrat John Kerry’s voters then switched to Nader.  In 2010, Mooney helped elect Republican Rick Perry as governor of Texas by secretly launching a separate, stealth campaign to split liberal votes between a Democratic candidate and a Green Party candidate, which then left Perry with more votes than either of his other two opponents.

On 9 May 2013, around the time that Mooney helped launch EMFL, he spoke at a “Latinos & Conservatism” conference in Las Vegas, where he represented the Faith & Freedom Coalition, an anti-LGBT group where the mission includes repealing and banning marriage nationwide.

In June 2013, Mooney helped launch twin marriage campaigns:  EMFL (Equal Marriage Florida) in the east, and EMAZ (Equal Marriage Arizona) in the west.  Both met with similar suspicion and resistance from the LGBT community.  Two months after he launched EMAZ, its leaders closed the doors.  Seven months after he launched EMFL, its leaders refused to itemize their progress or plans for this article.

In August 2013, Mooney admitted that he was working as a political consultant to marriage equality campaigns — but that he was doing so in order to benefit the Republican Party.  Mooney excused his marriage equality consulting work to fellow conservatives by calling it “the most effective strategy for the future of the GOP” — the party that’s still working to ban and repeal same-gender marriages nationwide.  Like Brito, Gray, and other EMFL leaders, Mooney did not respond to multiple e-mail and phone requests to be interviewed for this article.

On 17 December, Vanessa Brito wrote and recommended contacting Ron Nielson at Our America Initiative, the conservative Libertarian political organization that backs EMFL, and that is named on every EMFL Web page as “Sponsor.”  But it appears that she didn’t want anyone to reach him at all, because she misspelled his name as “Nielsen” and gave a fake, non-existent e-mail address of RTNielsen@NSOinfo.com.  Tracking down the real Ron Nielson was revealing:  he did not want to be quoted anywhere, and would not speak on the record.

Brito’s refusal to answer interview questions, Gray’s refusal to correct the previously published numbers, Mooney’s failure to return inquiries, and Nielson’s refusal to be quoted are all very odd for a statewide campaign in which every signature and every vote matters, and for which any publicity is helpful.  But refusing to talk is not surprising, according to Professor Andrew Koppelman, instructor in law and political science at Northwestern University, who says that not returning reporters’ inquiries is “one of the basic rules of any stealth organization.”

Tim Mooney isn’t the only person associated with EMFL who worked to defeat marriage equality.  EMFL Chairperson/Treasurer Vanessa Brito did, too.  She was the Project Manager & Media Expert for the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group, where she worked trying to get Mitt Romney elected President of the United States.  During that campaign, Romney publicly signed a written vow to outlaw, repeal, and ban same-gender marriages via the U.S. Constitution.  He was defeated in November 2012.  Seven months later, Brito appointed herself as Chairperson and Treasurer of Equal Marriage Florida.

The only EMFL representative willing to speak on the record is Communications Specialist Joe Hunter from Our America Initiative, which backs EMFL, and is named on every EMFL Web page as “Sponsor.”  Hunter believes that EMFL has made some progress, yet when asked for current figures on staffing, signatures, or fund-raising, he replied, “I really couldn’t answer; I simply don’t know.”

Part 5 of 7:  Haters Wait with Bated Breath

By the 1 February deadline shown on its Web site, EMFL either will succeed at putting the marriage question on Florida’s ballot, or else will fail to put it on the ballot.  All indications are that EMFL will fail.  If the November claim of only 200,000 signatures is accurate, then the remaining 800,000 signatures can’t be collected by the deadline, because there are only three remaining part-time, unpaid district co-chairs who still show working e-mail addresses (no co-chairs show any phone numbers), and each of those three people would have to collect 266,667 more signatures.

That unachievable goal has anti-LGBT hate groups salivating.  As soon as the 1 February deadline is missed, they can start bragging that they just defeated another marriage equality campaign, without lifting a finger.

For LGBT activists, though, staying off the Florida ballot is far safer than getting on it.  If marriage equality appears on either a 2014 or a 2016 ballot, anti-LGBT hate groups nationwide will unleash their usual dragons, fueled and funded by Mormon churchgoers, Catholic bishops, evangelical Dominionists, and NOM’s tiny handful of wealthy, secret donors.  Those groups flooded over $40 million into California’s Proposition 8 battle only 6 years ago, and they’re just itching to repeat themselves.  Florida would make a great showcase for an encore performance.

Meanwhile, EMFL filed Florida campaign finance reports showing that it has collected none of the $6 million that it promised to raise.  To make matters worse, $6 million is probably inadequate.  Brito sells campaign services, marked up to give herself a profit, so her estimated budget is probably too small to:  (a) change cultural attitudes, (b) saturate Florida’s ten media markets, and (c) fight wealthy Mormon and Catholic bishops (whose funds for oppressing LGBT people appear relatively unlimited).

In 2008, although the LGBT community raised $4.3 million to fight Florida’s constitutional marriage ban, anti-equality forces raised only $1.6 million, and yet they won by a 24% landslide.  In Oregon, where the population is about one-fifth of Florida’s, campaign leaders have budgeted $10-12 million, and in Georgia, with half the population of Florida, Georgia
Equality leaders also expect to spend $10 million.  All these data point to two realities for EMFL:  changing cultural attitudes is the critical goal, and EMFL’s $6 million budget is too small to achieve that goal.

Six years ago, Floridians voted, 62% to 38%, against equality.  To reverse that to at least 60% to 40% favoring equality (the minimum needed to pass), any campaign would have to focus resources on changing votes.  Among Florida’s 16 million potential voters, the most labor-intensive are the 7 million who are all over age 50, mostly Republican, and who stridently want to keep the current marriage ban.  Collecting signatures is pointless unless EMFL also persuades nearly 2 million citizens to switch their vote from anti-equality to pro-equality.

Asked how those voters will get converted, OAI spokesman and EMFL Sponsor Joe Hunter says he doesn’t think it’s necessary to change cultural attitudes, and EMFL doesn’t plan to work on that.  “It is close enough.  We don’t have to change a whole bunch of minds.  There are enough people in Florida who are sympathetic to marriage equality to pass it; the challenge is making sure they go vote,” he said.  When asked how OAI and EMFL can be so sure of victory, Hunter replied, “We have done our own polling, and the conclusion is it is not a slam dunk, but we’re certainly in a position to get there.”

Neither OAI nor EMFL is willing to release any of their private poll results, and when asked which public polls convinced OAI to sponsor EMFL, Hunter could not immediately identify any.

Three days later, he did point to three surveys from a newspaper, a university, and a surveyor, but none of those polls suggested that at least 60% of the voters would agree to alter the state constitution.  In October 2012, when the Washington Post asked 1,107 adult registered Florida voters whether same-gender couples should be able to marry, 54% said yes, 33% said no, and 13% had no opinion.  In December 2012, when Quinnipiac University asked 1,261 registered Florida voters the same question, only 43% said yes, and every age group 30 and older fell far short of the critical 60% minimum.  In August 2013, when St. Pete Polls asked 3,034 registered Florida voters (demographically balanced by district, party, race, and age) the same question, only 46% said yes, 47% said no, 7% were unsure, and no age group had the required 60% minimum.

Vanessa Brito says she earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Florida International University, a curriculum which should have taught her about the need to persuade critical demographic groups.  Apparently it didn’t.  Rather than concentrate on the anti-equality voters, she is focusing instead on Libertarians, moderate Republicans, and the least important group of all:  younger voters, “the people in their 30s, the voters in their 30s” as she told the Miami Herald last June.  The signatures of 30-somethings might put equal marriage on the ballot and win that battle, but ignoring their 7 million Republican parents and grandparents will also defeat equality at the polls, and thus lose the whole war.

In this populous, media-centric state, that’s a defeat which conservatives will crow about for years — and which will help raise more anti-LGBT cash — to the detriment of marriage rights everywhere else.

If EMFL gets the marriage equality question onto any ballot, Floridians — not to mention the rest of the nation — will then suffer through another bitter, vicious campaign in which billboards and broadcasts call LGBT people defective, deviant, depraved, and demonically possessed.  While that campaign rages in this southernmost state, teenagers who are LGBT or who have same-gender parents are likely to be brutalized, and children from all age groups will be victims of the prejudice for which America’s deep-south theocrats are so famous.

Either way, EMFL now is poised to hand the anti-LGBT forces exactly what they want:  a wide victory, in an election year, in a big state.  That victory will come either via EMFL’s failure to collect enough petition signatures, or else via a Proposition-8-style media battle — in which opponents relentlessly advertise that LGBT individuals, couples, and their children don’t even deserve basic human rights — followed by a defeat at the polls.

Tomorrow in this investigative series:  Part 6 – Promising the Impossible, and Part 7 – Prognosis.

skitched-20130320-084004Ned Flaherty is an LGBT activist currently focused on civil marriage equality, and previously on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. He writes from Boston, Massachusetts, where America’s first same-gender civil marriages began in 2004. He suffered a childhood exposure to Roman Catholic pomp and circumstance, but the spell never took, and he recovered.

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) allegedly made a social media post appearing to praise Adolf Hitler while referring to “the Jews and Black” people, and frequently made pejorative “jokes” about being Jewish according to friends interviewed by Patch and screenshots of now-deleted social media posts.

In 2011, Santos “commented on a Facebook post with what appear to be intended-jokes about Hitler, a phrase that appears to salute Hitler and observations about ‘the Jews and black[s],’ exclusive screenshots obtained by Patch show.”

Patch, which published a screenshot of  what appear to be Santos’ comment, reports he had written this: “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black [sic] mostly lolllolol!!! Dum”

Sarah Fishkind, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a political organizer, posted video Thursday afternoon of her conversation with Rep. Santos.

“Do you have any comments about your most-recently-leaked Facebook comments about killing all Jews and Black people?” she asked, according to her post.

“I’m sorry?” Santos, appearing to be stunned, replied.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

“It’s on the news right. now,” she responded, “that you Facebook commented.”

Santos replied with a frustrated huff, then said: “That’s going to be hard to hold.” It’s unclear what he meant by that comment.

Santos ran and won his congressional seat claiming to be a gay Jewish Republican, only later to falsely claim he never said he was Jewish, but “Jew-ish.” He also lied about his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust.

Jewish groups have condemned his false claims of Jewish heritage, which include false claims that his grandparents were “Holocaust refugees.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

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John Eastman, the far-right attorney, disgraced former law professor, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ National Organization For Marriage (NOM) is facing eleven counts of alleged ethics violations, and disbarment, by California state bar regulators. Among the allegations, “intentional acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”

As The New York Times reported last fall, “after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.

So has the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which late last month referred Eastman – in the same breath as Donald Trump – to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution on criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.

READ MORE: Ginni Thomas Looking Like ‘Full Fledged Potential Co-Conspirator’ After Discovery of Emails With Eastman: Legal Expert

“The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable,” the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “Eastman has not been charged with any crimes to date.”

“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California’s statement adds.

Law & Crime’s Adam Klasfeld further explains that Cardona “intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment for alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6106, which punishes making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of ‘moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.'”

Last week The New York Times described Eastman as “a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss,” but it is his fellow Republican attorneys who delivered the judgment on his skills.

“Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world,” The Times reported. “Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.'”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

It wasn’t just Republican attorneys in the Trump White House.

During the January 6 insurrection, Eastman, certainly no silent architect, stood at the same podium Donald Trump would speak at, and delivered a fiery speech alongside Rudy Giuliani. Six days later his colleagues at Chapman University demanded his firing.

The disbarment may be the least of Eastman’s self-inflicted woes.

“He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments,” according to The Times, also adding that the “F.B.I. seized his iPhone.”

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This article was updated at 5:41 PM ET with details reported by Law & Crime, including references to “moral turpitude.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

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Special Counsel Robert Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.

“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.

The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”

But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.

It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.

In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”

READ MORE: ‘Failed Spectacularly’: Top Legal Experts Call for Ethics Probe Into Bill Barr’s Handpicked Special Counsel John Durham

In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”

The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.

“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”

Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.

“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”

BARR THREATENED NSA

The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”

According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”

The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”

DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED

“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.

Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”

The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.

So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.

The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”

So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.

“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

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